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Monday, March 29, 2004

VandeHei Watch 3.29.04: Fit for Office

Yes, I've been slacking the last few days, so here's a three-for-one special, starting with today's Jim VandeHei article.

For some reason the Post goes with the headline "A Fit Kerry Dogged by Medical Questions" even though the piece itself notes, "based on Kerry's partial medical records, which were released last year, the Massachusetts senator appears to be in fine shape." The suggestion that Kerry may have a "Cheney problem" is patently ridiculous--did anyone else see that video of him snowboarding last week? Have you ever seen Tricky Dick do something like that for the cameras? Plus, Kerry's combination of prostate cancer last year and minor shoulder surgery later this week seems comparable to George Bush's minor ailments and other wise healthy record: "Bush did have four noncancerous skin lesions removed in December 2001 and recently stopped running because of a knee injury."

My highlight of the Saturday VandeHei article, which focused on Richard Clarke's allegations and Kerry's response, is that the shoulder surgery has been prompted by pain Kerry felt "recently when he picked up a baby." He needs that surgery soon so that he can resume picking up babies and presumably kissing them for the rest of the year. Kerry's supposedly "more upbeat and statesmanlike campaign" strategy doesn't seem to make much sense either, for example, "the Democratic nominee-in-waiting does not want to engage in daily fights with Bush over national security, especially when it is provoked by the president and his allies." He's not going to engage when he's called out? Is he just going to leave attacks unanswered then?

Finally, on Friday's front page VandeHei previewed Kerry's corporate tax cutting proposal, which was unveiled that day and is going to be criticized in a speech by Cheney today (VandeHei had a shorter piece on the announcement in Saturday's Post) . The policy is to "reduce the corporate tax rate to 33.25 percent from 35 percent and provide small businesses tax incentives to hire new workers and provide health care to employees"--here's the full speech text and more info on what the campaign is touting as the 10 million jobs package.

VandeHei writes that in making the proposal, "Kerry is seeking to position himself as a moderate, pro-business Democrat similar to Bill Clinton and beat back charges that he is a tax-and-spend liberal." It's all about politics, of course, not the stated aim of promoting job growth; somehow VandeHei can read Kerry's mind. I also find it interesting that VandeHei writes, "it is impossible to determine if Kerry would raise taxes by $900 billion as Bush claims" since "Kerry has not detailed his full budget plan." That certainly didn't stop VandeHei from making noises about the Kerry budget in recent weeks, as noted here and here.